A few months back I received a phone call from my daughter. She was excited about something she was going to do. She kept it a secret for a little while. She finally told me what she had planned. She and her husband were going to a benefit to help with Alzheimer Disease. This was not a walk or a run, or a pledge to give money; it was something different. They did pledge money….for art work. This art work would be unique; not just your ordinary painted by a famous artist picture. She and my son-in-law would be painting the picture. Now here’s where a mom’s love really comes into play. I raised my daughter. I know she does not have an artistic ability like I do. She can do many things well and so can my son-in-law, but paint a picture for me to hang on a wall? Well, I was a bit skeptical. I asked her how she planned to paint this picture. She said they would pay a fee and be given the tools to do it. As the instructor painted her picture and explained the methods the kids would paint right alongside her following her instructions and example. Oh, and I might add all the time drinking wine. She was excited and I didn’t want to quench my daughter’s enthusiasm or show any doubt they could do this. Off they went.
A few months later my husband and I took a trip to Indiana. They had returned from this benefit with two pictures in tow. Both of them had chosen to paint the same picture so they could be together. She was ready to reveal her picture to me. I held my breath. As I have mentioned before I had to take art class in school as a child. We always had to do the pottery thing. When mine was finished you couldn’t tell if it was to be used as an ashtray, bowl, and dish or if it was useful at all. My mom was gracious and told me she loved it. It was perfect. So, my mom’s instincts kicked in. She had me close my eyes and then open them at the appropriate time. I did! It was beautiful…really, no really! They did an awesome job. I loved it! It is now hanging up in my house.
As I was thinking about this God spoke to me once again. The kids followed the example of the instructor. As she did things they were to follow her. If she drew a circle then they were to draw a circle. You get the point. The question God posed at me was this, “If someone followed your example to living a Christian life what would be the end result?” Would their lives be something to behold or something to be hide?
Wow! We know as parents our kids follow our examples. They learn from us. We have all heard the cliché watch what you say little ears are listening. Parents don’t want little ones to pick up things they shouldn’t be saying. As our children get older and leave the nest we kind of forget that others in our churches, our communities, and in our friendships just might be watching us trying to emulate us.
I have had several people in my churches as I grew up that I wanted to imitate. I wanted to follow their instructions and live the kind of life they lived. As I got closer to some of them I decided it would be best if I followed after Christ and not the one I thought I wanted to imitate.
There were other times I thought I could do a better job if I went out on my own. I didn’t need to be given instructions. Now I am thinking if my daughter and son-in-law did this the picture might not have turned out as well as it did. It might have…but I am doubtful.
We have to be aware whether we like it or not others may be following our examples. We might need to be aware that when we instruct, share in a class, or live a certain way we are setting examples of how to live.
1-6 “Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older
men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance.
Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks,
but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love
their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives.
We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.
Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.” Titus 2:1-6
I love the next to last line, “We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.” We want to instruct others to paint beautiful pictures of their lives, not chaos. What we do and how we live will affect people’s lives. The way we live is like a pebble being thrown into a pond…the ripple effect.
1-2 “Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work.
Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified.
We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone
whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person,
in perfect control of life.” James 3:1-2
We who teach will be held accountable for what we teach. I am thinking if my daughter and son-in-law paid to have this picture made and followed the instructor’s techniques and examples and it came out really bad then they would hold her accountable. At the same time if we are following the instructors’ example the picture will come out just fine. I am sure there are flaws in the picture I can’t see, but the overall picture is beautiful. There will be times as instructors we will mess up. There will be times we will fail as we set examples for our children, youth and those imitating us, but it should never be so bad that others lives are affected. I think my daughter shared with me the instructor showed them what to do if they messed up. It was an easy fix. It’s easy for us if we mess up. We confess to God and to others and ask for forgiveness. The slate is wiped clean and we can begin painting our picture again knowing not to make the same mistakes.
Others are following your examples; imitating you; somewhere, someone at some point in our lives people will be imitating you. What kind of picture will their lives turn out to be?
On the other hand Kristi and Shane had to have faith in the instructor. They had to believe that if they followed her instructions the picture they paid to paint would be beautiful and worthy to hang on any wall. We have to be very careful who we want to emulate. My best advice is to emulate the only one that leads a perfect life; Jesus Christ. Yes, we can follow those who we think are Saints in our church, we can imitate those who lead Bible Studies and we can follow the examples of parents, teachers and preachers, but know they are not perfect and they will mess up. We can hold them accountable and pray for them, but we can also learn from them as well. We can learn to not follow so closely that we see all their mistakes and not see our own.
We are taught from the day we are born until we die. We are given all kinds of instructions. We are given all kinds of examples for us to follow. We will mess up and others will come along and show us how to correct our mistakes; other times others will mess up and we need to show grace and mercy.
Where are you at in your life? Are you imitating someone right now? How does your picture look? Will it be beautiful enough to hang on a wall or are you following the example of someone who is teaching you about chaos and the picture of your life is not turning out as you had planned?
The image of our lives is only as good as the instructor who is guiding us and leading us. If we are imitating Christ then our picture will be perfect; flaws and all.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for those who are willing to teach and lead. Thank you for those who are instructors and give us examples to follow. Help us as we try to emulate those who we think are perfect. Let us never get so close we only see their mistakes and we miss our own. No one is perfect. Remind us daily to live our lives in such a way that will lead others to you. Because we live in this world our lives will be touched by others good or bad. Like a pebble in water the ripple will reach out to others whether we are aware of it or not. We ask that you be with those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s and those who are care takers. Help those who are working on finding a cure. We thank you for those who are willing to give up of their time and make a difference. Amen